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Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Power cuts and blazes hit

The region’s emergency services are being kept on their toes as wild weather results in flying trampolines, tree debris ripping through powerlines, and multiple fires.

Gusts at Castlepoint got up to 162kmh on Saturday morning according to the Castlepoint station, and there were multiple reports of fallen trees and fires over the weekend.

The winds have been constant since Saturday, and Powerco crews were called to multiple reports of power outages, the most significant of which affected 1376 households.

A Powerco spokesperson said the line was patrolled but nothing was found, although the wind was strong at the time, and customers were progressively restored, with all power reconnected by 6.40pm. On Saturday, 1298 households also lost power in and around Castlepoint after trees brought down lines, and all were reconnected just after 5pm.

Shortly after 2.30pm on Sunday, 348 households in Wainuioru, Masterton also lost their electricity, but power was restored by 5.45pm.

A tree by West Taratahi on SH2 brought lines down and sparked a shrub fire on the side of the road on late Sunday afternoon.

Carterton Brigade chief fire officer Bryan Styles said the crew had to wait until it was confirmed the power was off before they could safely extinguish it, “so we just had to sit there and watch it burn”, Styles said.

“It’s pretty frustrating, but they were high voltage lines that were broken.”

Styles confirmed there wasn’t extensive damage caused by the fire, just a few trees with burnt bark and leaves.

The highway was closed between East Taratahi Rd and Hughes Line while Powerco, fire services, and police attended the scene, with the lane for northbound traffic reopened by 4pm, and for both directions by 8.30pm.

The incident caused an outage to 425 households shortly after 3pm, with all power was restored by 10pm.

As of yesterday afternoon, 54 households in Tīnui remained without power after trees went through lines in a forestry block early on Saturday afternoon.

Crew were unable to safely start repairs until yesterday, due to the prevalent winds.

Powerco head of network operations Caz Haydon said the damage in the forestry block is substantial and complex, and they had crew starting tree removal as the wind eased yesterday afternoon.

“I want to personally thank the people in this area for their patience and understanding,” Haydon said.

“I appreciate it’s incredibly frustrating being without power for this long. We are doing everything we safely can to restore supply to you.”

Masterton’s fire crew were called to a shed blaze on Sunday evening at 7.45pm.

A spokesperson said that on arrival quickly they realised they needed to escalate the alarm level as the structure was “well involved in fire”.

Additional help from Carterton, Remutaka, and Masterton was called in.

The flames were extinguished by 11.40pm, but not before the shed was well and truly burnt to the ground.

Yesterday, the stench of burnt rubble and smoke still clung to the air as specialist fire investigators attended the scene to investigate the cause, but the spokesperson said there was no indication the fire was suspicious.

Fire services across the region had their hands full all weekend.

Featherston’s chief fire officer Colin McKenna said he attended one call for Western Lake Rd, where six burning piles of slash-like tree debris had been caught by the winds.

“These things burn internally, and they keep the heat in there. With a bit of wind, the next minute you’ve got it all going again,” McKenna said.

“They’re safe providing the wind doesn’t get up.”

As one pile was reasonably near a house, McKenna said they prioritised putting that one out before moving on to the other piles, where embers were also being blown across the road.

A less urgent call for help in Featherston involved a trampoline that was caught in a resident’s tree over the weekend, something McKenna said was “a bit of a mission”.

“You just wonder how those things actually happen, you really do.” On Saturday, 1298 households also lost power in and around Castlepoint after trees brought down lines, and all were reconnected just after 5pm.

Shortly after 2.30pm on Sunday, 348 households in Wainuioru, Masterton also lost their electricity, but power was restored by 5.45pm.

A tree by West Taratahi on SH2 brought lines down and sparked a shrub fire on the side of the road on late Sunday afternoon.

Carterton Brigade chief fire officer Bryan Styles said the crew had to wait until it was confirmed the power was off before they could safely extinguish it, “so we just had to sit there and watch it burn”, Styles said.

“It’s pretty frustrating, but they were high voltage lines that were broken.”

Styles confirmed there wasn’t extensive damage caused by the fire, just a few trees with burnt bark and leaves.

The highway was closed between East Taratahi Rd and Hughes Line while Powerco, fire services, and police attended the scene, with the lane for northbound traffic reopened by 4pm, and for both directions by 8.30pm.

The incident caused an outage to 425 households shortly after 3pm, with all power was restored by 10pm.

As of yesterday afternoon, 54 households in Tīnui remained without power after trees went through lines in a forestry block early on Saturday afternoon.

Crew were unable to safely start repairs until yesterday, due to the prevalent winds.

Powerco head of network operations Caz Haydon said the damage in the forestry block is substantial and complex, and they had crew starting tree removal as the wind eased yesterday afternoon.

“I want to personally thank the people in this area for their patience and understanding,” Haydon said.

“I appreciate it’s incredibly frustrating being without power for this long. We are doing everything we safely can to restore supply to you.”

Masterton’s fire crew were called to a shed blaze on Sunday at 7.45pm.

A spokesperson said that on arrival quickly they realised they needed to escalate the alarm level as the structure was “well involved in fire”.

Additional help from Carterton, Remutaka, and Masterton was called in.

The flames were extinguished by 11.40pm, but not before the shed had well and truly burnt to the ground.

Yesterday, the stench of burnt rubble and smoke still clung to the air as specialist fire investigators attended the scene to investigate the cause, but the spokesperson said there was no indication the fire was suspicious.

Fire services across the region had their hands full all weekend.

Featherston’s chief fire officer Colin McKenna said he attended one call for Western Lake Rd, where six burning piles of slash-like tree debris had been caught by the winds.

“These things burn internally, and they keep the heat in there. With a bit of wind, the next minute you’ve got it all going again,” McKenna said.

“They’re safe providing the wind doesn’t get up.”

As one pile was reasonably near a house, McKenna said they prioritised putting that one out before moving on to the other piles, where embers were also being blown across the road.

A less urgent call for help in Featherston involved a trampoline that was caught in a resident’s tree over the weekend, something McKenna said was “a bit of a mission”.

“You just wonder how those things actually happen, you really do.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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